Melbourne-based electronic producer Michael Mildren kicked his four part series of ‘Process’ albums, each exploring a different facet of of electronic music technique, last year with his inaugural volume ‘Studies In Kraft’ which saw him fashioning his own fairly reverent covers of tracks from the Kraftwerk backcatalogue. A few months on, this second download-only volume ‘Post-Kraft’ sees Mildren applying the lessons he learnt from exploring Kraftwerk to his own new compositions.
While the familiar propulsive synths, electro rhythms and vocoders of the Dusseldorf electronic figureheads remain a constant aesthetic touchstone on the eight tracks collected here, they represent a ‘jumping off’ point more than anything else for Mildren to fashion his own individual explorations. Attempting Kraftwerk covers in a reverential electronic style is something that’s fraught with difficulty when you don’t have access to a studio along the lines of Kling Klang, and it’s perhaps this reason that ‘Post-Kraft’ comes across as a much stronger collection than the volume preceding it.
‘Levels’ kicks things off with a wash of gaseous ambient noise and whizzing electronic bleeps, before a synthesised video game voice intoning “level two’ signals the entrance of waspy minor key synths, only for fluttering motorik rhythms to emerge into the foreground against rippling proggy synth arpeggios. There’s more of a kinship with the Berlin School and late seventies Tangerine Dream than Hutter and co, the focus falling more upon oceanic layers of textured synths than anything approaching the Dusseldorf group’s economically tight arrangements.
‘GeoEngineering’ by comparison represents a far more direct homage, fusing sinister pitchshifted robotic vocals to an undercarriage of zapping electro rhythms and juddering bass arpeggios, the bright synth leads adding an elegant feel to the mechanistic rhythms, in an offering that fuses a ‘Trans Europe Express’ vibe with a slight post-electroclash afterglow.
Elsewhere, ‘Find Your Here’ sits closer to early eighties OMD (a group who make no secret of being Kraftwerk acolytes themselves), the fusion of Mildren’s own untreated sung vocals, surging synth riffs and stripped back industrial percussion resulting in what’s one of this album’s most synth-pop oriented moments, before ‘Treading The Fine Line’ sees him channeling Ian Curtis’ foreboding presence against a glacial backdrop of ebbing synths and stripped back, reverb-treated drums that suggests an acid-laced reinterpretation of Joy Division’s ‘Atmosphere’ as 303s begin to wriggle out of the woodwork towards the end. All up ‘Process 2: Post-Kraft’ offers up a much stronger collection than its predecessor that sees Mildren revealing more of himself.